Frederik Vesti believes that no fewer than 15 drivers will be challenging for FIA Formula 3 Championship wins this season as competitors gear up for round one this weekend.
The Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior has switched from reigning champion team Prema to ART Grand Prix for his second attempt at the series after finishing fourth in the points as a rookie last year.
Nine drivers won in the 18-race 2020 season, with Vesti winning three Saturday races. He and Charouz Racing System’s late signing of Logan Sargeant are the only two returning race-winners for 2021, having been team-mates at Prema last year.
There were also nine different winners in the inaugural FIA F3 season in 2019, with a 10th coming in the form of Richard Verschoor when he won Macau’s FIA F3 World Cup. That also marked Vesti’s category debut, and he’s a 2021 title favourite.
“I think there are going to be many drivers. I expect 15 drivers to be able to win a race this season,” Vesti said of the title fight.
“Both because of the new format with the reversed grid, but also because there are a lot of good drivers. But I definitely think we will be fighting with the top teams of Prema, Carlin, Hitech GP, Trident. There will be good drivers everywhere, and I think it’s going to be impossible to say right now who is going be right up there from the beginning or who is going to progress to be good at the middle and at the end of the season.
“But I’m expecting a lot of good people to be fast during the season.”
In pre-season testing at Barcelona a few weeks ago, the top 19 drivers were within one percent of the pacesetter in terms of long-run pace, while the top 22 were spread by less than one percent on single-lap pace.
Vesti was also asked by Formula Scout about his new Mercedes partnership, which was influental in his move to ART GP, and said that serious work is yet to begin with F1’s current world champion team.
“It’s been a long time to get the relationship, but also it’s the very beginning of the relationship,” said Vesti.
“Right now I am fully focusing on the F3 championship with ART, which means I haven’t spent much time in the UK or with the Mercedes team yet.
“But as the season goes on and we get more into a rhythm, I will be able to switch my view a little bit more towards what Mercedes can bring me and what I can bring to them. During the year this relationship will develop into something that can help me a lot, to become the driver I need to be to enter F1. And that’s where I see where they can help me the most.”